Pocket Parks of NYC
400 Park Avenue (between 53rd & 54th Streets)
Though the Seagram’s Building across the street is widely credited with the beginning of the city’s love of urban plazas, Lever House was the actual pioneer. The developers wanted to illustrate Lever Bros. identity as a soap company by creating a “squeaky clean” design. The result was to sacrifice valuable ground-floor real estate in exchange for wide-open public space, albeit under the building at street level.
The first time I went there to investigate, I found the south part of the plaza. It is so large that when I went back during another trip, I thought the north side of the plaza was an entirely different space. The center where the elevator banks are located is surrounded by glass, but it is wide enough to make it difficult to see the other side. The building takes up the entire block and is a nice spot to take a break if you are looking for some shade. Head to the southern side by 53rd Street. That’s where the scant greenery as well as a seating can be found.